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Puberty for girls

Puberty is the time when you grow from a girl to a young woman. Everyone goes through it. It can be exciting, but some people find it tough. Here are some of the changes to expect.

Note: We also have an article about puberty for boys.

How does my body change?

Your body changes during puberty – you are going from being a child to how you will be when you are an adult.

During puberty, a lot of different things happen.

  • You’ll get taller, and this might happen quite quickly.
  • Your nipples may look swollen and feel tender. This is the start of your breasts growing, and usually happens between the ages of 8 to 13.
  • Your hips, bottom and thighs will probably get bigger and rounder.
  • Inside your body, your ovaries and womb will get larger.
  • Pubic hair will start growing around your vagina and under your arms. You may also find you have more hair on your legs. The hair will start off fine and straight, but become thicker and curlier.
  • Your clitoris will get larger.
  • Your first period, or menstruation, will probably arrive between the ages of 10 and 14 years. Every girl is different.
  • Your vagina will start to produce a small amount of clear or cream-coloured fluid (called vaginal discharge). This fluid, which keeps the walls of the vagina clean, is normal and healthy.
  • You may get oily skin and hair, and spots (acne) may develop on your face and body.
  • You may also find you sweat more.
  • You may feel more emotional than usual and find you are sensitive to what others say.

These changes usually take place over about four years. By the time you are 16, you will have done most of your physical developing.

What if my period hasn’t started?

It is normal for a girl to start her periods between the ages of 10 and 14, although some start earlier. If you are 16 and still haven’t started your periods, see your doctor.

Your doctor will talk to you. They may also want to examine you and take some blood tests to check your hormone levels. On rare occasions, you may be asked to have more tests, like a scan.

You may feel more comfortable discussing these things with a female doctor.

The most common reasons for girls starting their periods later than usual are:

  • genetic predisposition – in some families, girls start their periods late
  • doing way too much exercise
  • being underweight
  • stress
  • some medicines
  • severe long-term illness
  • hormonal problems.

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about your puberty for girls, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: August 2017

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 87 results

Puberty (Female) | myVMC

Puberty refers to the final maturation of the reproductive organs. In girls it results in breast pubic and underarm hair growth and menstruation.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Kids' Health - Topics - Puberty - boy changes, girl changes

As you begin to go through puberty you grow taller, stronger, heavier, hairier, smellier, moodier and you may get pimples! Other changes depend on whether you are a girl or a boy.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Puberty

Puberty starts when hormones from part of the brain (pituitary gland) act on the ovaries or testes to begin sexual changes in both boys and girls.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Teen Health - Health Topics - Puberty - what it looks like

Puberty often begins at about 10 years of age, but you wont see or feel the physical changes straight away. Puberty begins when special hormones start to be made in our bodies. At this stage you don't know anything is changing because nothing seems different on the outside. Boys usually begin to show the outward, physical changes of puberty between 13 and 16, while for girls it is usually between 11 and 14.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Nutrition in Adolescent Girls | myVMC

Adolescence is the transition period between childhood and adulthood, typically between the ages of 10 and 13 years in girls. Adolescence is characterised by the growth spurt, a period of rapid growth. During this time, physical changes affect the body's nutritional needs, while changes in one's lifestyle may affect eating habits and food choices.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Kids' Health - Topics - Sexual reproduction - how babies are made

When girls and boys reach puberty, their bodies start to change and become more mature. From this time, if a male and a female have sexual intercourse (often called 'making love', or 'sleeping with someone'), it is possible that the girl could get pregnant, ie.a baby could start to grow.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Teen Health - Health Topics - Periods - the facts

Having a period(or menstruating) is a normal and natural part of being a woman. Girls usually have their first period about a year after the first signs of puberty (when they start to get taller and breasts start to grow), but the time this happens can vary a lot.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Young Adult Health - Health Topics - Periods - the facts

Having a period(or menstruating) is a normal and natural part of being a woman. Girls usually have their first period about a year after the first signs of puberty (when they start to get taller and breasts start to grow), but the time this happens can vary a lot.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Periods - the facts

Having a period(or menstruating) is a normal and natural part of being a woman. Girls usually have their first period about a year after the first signs of puberty (when they start to get taller and breasts start to grow), but the time this happens can vary a lot.

Read more on Women's and Children's Health Network website

Puberty (Male) | myVMC

Puberty is a hormonal surge that causes the reproductive organs to mature. In boys testosterone production and penis size increase and sperm are produced.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

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